House GOP Blocks Mental Health Gun Safety Amendment

Republicans in the Iowa House threatened to pull the entire mental health omnibus bill from the floor today to kill debate and a vote on a Democratic amendment on “extreme risk protective orders” that could keep guns out of the hands of potential mass shooters or suicidal individuals.

Representative Art Staed of Cedar Rapids offered up H-8117 as an amendment to HF 2456, a wide-ranging mental health omnibus bill. It would have implemented a process in which a court could have considered removing weapons from the possession of someone deemed a “significant danger” to themselves or others in the “near future.”

The amendment allowed for close family members, people in an intimate relationship or roommates with the person to petition a court with significant evidence that the person was in danger of using a firearm to hurt someone. A hearing would have to be held between five and fifteen days of everyone being notified of the matter, and a court would have to find a “preponderance of evidence” to issue an extreme risk protective order, which would allow a local sheriff or police officer to confiscate the weapons. The order would be temporary and could be up to a year in length.

“This is a tool that families and law enforcement can intervene in a crisis and temporarily remove guns until the person is stable and can get the care they need,” Staed told Starting Line, noting that five other states already have similar laws. “This is a tool that has worked in other states and can work here to save lives.”

Staed noted that in 80% of suicides, family members and friends have recognized dangerous or worrying behavior ahead of time. This intervention method could help get firearms out of a person’s house that might be actively considering taking their own life in the near future. It could also give police a way to prevent troubled young people like the Parkland, Florida shooter from having dangerous weapons when they’ve been making comments that indicate they might attack and kill others.

The amendment also contained plenty of due process rights for an individual to present their defense in such a situation.

“In the majority of mass shootings, there were clues,” Staed said.

He also explained that under current state law you have to be involuntarily committed to a mental healthcare facility for already having committed violent behavior to allow local officials to confiscate firearms.

Republican leadership reportedly threatened that they would pull the entire mental health bill from consideration this year if Staed went through with his amendment. The mental health omnibus legislation is seen as one of the biggest improvements to Iowa’s beleaguered system in decades, opening up new access centers and expanding community treatment programs. Staed ended up introducing and withdrawing his amendment, a process where a legislator gives a short speech on the topic but then removes their legislation from consideration.

Democrats were not pleased with the heavy-handed tactics of Republicans, several of whom said they’d never seen such a threat to pull an entire large bill over a single amendment.

“I think this move was incredibly heartless and devoid of any thought to the constituents that these Republicans represent,” Representative Amy Nielsen of North Liberty said. “It definitely placed politics over people.”

The final mental health bill ended up passing this morning by a 96-0 vote.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 2/27/18

9 Comments on "House GOP Blocks Mental Health Gun Safety Amendment"

  • Worst abuse of power in the history of Iowa. Everything from avoiding public discussion, not attending townhall meetings which is part of our political process that started back during the Revolutionary time.
    Republicans creating legislation designed to work against working class and the most vulnerable.
    They’ve also made sure that we have no mental healthcare in the state of Iowa!
    Shame on the Republicans!

  • Good to know the “righteous” Republicans have now validated for the world what was just whispers about the state of Iowa. Oh and great fiscal narratives too.

  • It is sad that the Iowa GOP prefers conflict over compromise. They sometimes act like 8th grade students at a class meeting. The amendment to HF 2456 would have fine-tuned the mental health bill and improved some of the rules and regulations.

    The GOP have turned into a bunch of Philistines who cannot stop fighting. They have been watching too much Fox News and believe that Trump cannot do any wrong.

  • The Republican Party has been trying to place the blame for gun violence on mental health issues for a very long time but, when someone actually proposes an amendment that addresses some of the issues they not only refuse to consider it, they threaten to eliminate all mental health legislation. I do not necessarily think that mental health issues are the real problem but it is certainly worth addressing. More importantly, how many people have to die before our politicians say enough to the NRA? No one is trying to take away a hunters rights but can someone tell me when the automatic weapon season is legal? Automatic weapons should only be used by the military and law enforcement. NO ONE ELSE NEEDS AN ASSAULT WEAPON. No other civilized country in the world is experiencing the loss of innocent young lives like the United States. It is a tragic embarrassment to say the least. Shame on the Republicans who put their campaign contributions ahead of the lives of their constituents.

    • Automatic weapons are already illegal. We can’t have discussions about important issues like gun control when we aren’t even using the correct terminology.

  • This unwillingness by ultra-conservatives to consider any deviation from their pure desires is what the brain-dead in Iowa voted for and this is what they get ! If this amendment as stated was this simple and just, then there was no reason for it not to be considered . However if there was a particular problem of how it would work then it would have come to light in debate . As things went we the voters will never know its true attributes or lack of . Shame on us for not demanding better of all our legislatures !

  • How much more evidence do Iowans need that the GOP is their enemy? This is really a disgrace and an insult to every Iowan.

  • Of course. The Iowa GOP is all for mental health legislation – as long as it doesn’t involve gunz (spelling intentional). Since sub-acute care is so lacking (this bill will help), there will still be no mechanism by which those who fall into that cetegory can even be examined more closely to see if they are even stable enough to have a weapon. Once again they leave a good thing with a gaping hole – all because their masters tell them to reject anythng that might not say “guns are great!” And then, for pettiness, they threaten to kill a decent bill because of a common-sense amendment.
    And how insulting to the rest of us? These pseudo-Christians with their crocidile tears need to go. Remember – and vote!

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